Sunday, 1 February 2015

Red Sky at Night - Kansas Star

I've often heard it said that the internet and social media made Modern Quilting what it is today. I recently realised that I always interpreted that as meaning, "We used to sit around the table and quilt together, and now we sit around our computers." And in a way that's true. I rarely have people over at my place to quilt, and I communicate a lot with quilters all over the world.
This past week, I've been reading about the Kansas City Star, a newspaper started in the 1880s, which, during the early twentieth century, accepted submissions of quilt block tutorials and templates to include in their paper, even paying a small fee! And I don't know about you, but the only paper-reading folk I know in the whole world are my Dad, and my father-in-law. So when I think of the skill-building, light-hearted section of the paper, I think of Sudoku, crosswords and comics. Not quilt blocks. (Though maybe they should!)

As far as I know, I'm the first quilter in at least 4 generations of women who knew how to sew. My grandmother and mother sewed, not for relaxation or creative expression, but because when they had young children, sewing clothes was cheaper, a necessity. When clothes because cheaper to buy from the rack, my mother put away her sewing machine.
In the 1950s, when my mother was born, quilting was seen as an old necessity, replaced by production lines and department stores. Quilting was for the poor, the uneducated, the old. And I've been amazed, reading these old stories of quilters past, how much those ideas have stayed with me. How I've been sitting in this amazing online quilting community for years with this kind of fuzzy idea that no has ever done what we have done. No one made art like we do. They were just making do...
It struck me again, as it always does reading history, that these women were just like us! These ladies enjoyed putting colours and shapes together in new ways. They were inspired by their surroundings. They were industrious, creative, and enjoyed sharing their ideas with their community.

This week's block has been known as the Eight Point All Over and the Kansas Star, which historians believe may have come from the Newspaper quilt block series.


You will need:
RED: 5 x 3 3/8" squares and 8 x 3" squares cut in half to make half square triangles.
WHITE: 4 x 3 3/8" squares and 10 x 3" squares cut in half to make half square triangles.

Credit: Quiltville has the best square in a square dimensions graph here! I will never be afraid of these little blocks again!

1. Sew a white triangle to one side of the red square and press outward.

2. Sew another white triangle to the opposite site and press.

3. And then a triangle to each of the other sides and press outward.

4. (Yellow rulers are so hard to photograph!) Can you see the 2 1/4" line on the top and the right hand side? Line those up with the points on the diamond. Match up the other corners too. The whole square should be slightly larger than 4.5". Trim to 4.5" square.

5. If anything went wrong in the above steps (maybe you need a smaller seam allowance? I'm assuming a scant or true 1/4" allowance), fix it now. If not, follow the same steps for all your red squares in white and your white squares in red! 

6. Lay out your freshly trimmed squares with the white borders in the corners and the centre, and the red borders around the edge.
7. Sew together in three rows. Press seams open. Sew the rows together.

8. Don't forget to share your finished block on Instagram with the tag #redskyatnightQAL!

Isn't it clever? I really want to meet the first lady to make it. Did she find the star in there by accident? Or did she design it that way? Either way, I love it. It's a beautiful way to make do, don't you think?


  1. What a great post - set me thinking too. I love, love, love this red and white block x

  2. What a great post - set me thinking too. I love, love, love this red and white block x

  3. Such a gorgeous block! Loved reading this post! Got me thinking too ~ way to go! Love the take on modern quilting via computers. I never thought about that, but it is so true! The term Modern is very loose, but if you put it in to perspective as you did...then we are all modern quilters!! Thank you for this post!

  4. This is a great post. I think that instead of publishing the tutorials in newspapers, we still publish them in magazines (maybe the same?). I know people who can't wait for the next month's issue to come out to see what the next block is.
    Pitch the idea to a local newspaper, who are losing reading left and right, and maybe you can get some side cash?
    In my local paper they still print bridge hands, I bet more people quilt than play bridge!

  5. Hi Jodi! I enjoyed a lot your story and this block is beautiful! It's also fantastic example how fun quilting can be. Just with squares in squares we'll get a star! I'm happy to be able to quilt with online friends around the World, because here in GREECE quilting is not common (not even sewing) so other wise I couldn't share quilting with anyone. Happy sewings and have a great February! x Teje

  6. What a fabulous post!! Great block too.

  7. I loved reading your research about the block. So interesting. And I love seeing your progress. I finished my farmer's wife quilt with the bigger blocks, and mentioned your QAL.

  8. I need to get started on these blocks. I love reading your posts and plan to follow along but I just can't decide what my background will be. I plan to make it very scrappy, using what I have, but want one unifying color. Anyway, I love the block, and the bit of history you provide. Very fun!


I so love your comments! I read all of them and reply when I can. If you don't hear back, I'm lost under a mound of scraps or outside jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Jodi. xx